March 13th, 2007

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

photo credit: ilmungo

William N. Grigg, formerly of the John Birch Society, has an excellent post about the distinction between patriotism and nationalism:

While the terms patriotism and nationalism can refer to the same thing — the love of one’s native country — in practice they have acquired very different meanings. Nationalism, in practice, describes not to the love of a country but rather the veneration of its central government.

As historian John J. Dwyer notes, nationalism is a degenerate impostor of patriotism. "The patriot says, `I love my country,’ works for its good, and defends it if necessary — against enemies within and without," writes Dwyer. "He strives and prays not primarily that God will bless his country, but that his country will bless God. The nationalist, meanwhile, says, `My country is better than yours.’ `My country is the greatest there has ever been.’ `The greatest nation on God’s green earth.’ `They hate my country because it is so good.’"

Nationalism focuses on the State, rather than the community. It is unambiguously based on zero-sum assumptions about power, and nationalists define victory in terms of imposing their will on others.

As Ron Paul mentions, what once was true patriotism has evolved (or degenerated, rather) into nationalism:

The major obstacle to a sensible foreign policy is the fiction about what patriotism means. Today patriotism has come to mean blind support for the government and its policies. In earlier times patriotism meant having the willingness and courage to challenge government policies regardless of popular perceptions.

President Theodore Roosevelt eloquently stated how we might differentiate between patriotism and nationalism:

Every man who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude. (via Quoty)

President Benson taught the end result of nationalism, guised as patriotism:

If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers – normally good Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free – Americans who have been lulled away into a false security. (via Quoty)

Surely a false sense of security is engendered upon parroting America as a great nation that can never fall. The Lord has stipulated upon what grounds we may enjoy liberty in this land. Promoting an American imperialist empire as we currently are operating is wholly contradictory to the commandments we have been given, and we will certainly reap the consequences of such actions.

Nationalism—unquestioning loyalty to the current form of government—does nothing to restrain tyrants, uphold the Constitution, and secure the blessings of liberty for all of God’s children. Only patriotism—founded on true, eternal principles—can afford us that outcome.

I think it would be beneficial for each of us, in light of this distinction, to analyze whether we truly are patriots or nationalists. Wisely did Thomas Jefferson once say “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Are we allowing liberty to yield?

As Chalmers Johnson said in Why We Fight, “Nowhere is it written that the American empire goes on forever.” We must stand by the principles this nation was founded upon, and not the current corrupt government that has abused these principles.

True patriots fight against those who lead us down the slippery slope to tyranny. Nationalists are the cowards who follow the path of least resistance and think that all is well.

All is not well!

Read quotes about "patriotism" on Quoty

11 Responses to “Patriotism vs. Nationalism”

  1. Kelly Winterton
    March 13, 2007 at 8:40 am #

    All of my German friends believe that we Americans practice Nationalism, not Patriotism (in their definition of the terms). They ought to know! They are ashamed of their Nationalist (Nazi) past history. They have all been taught in school to gaurd against the principles of Nationalism from creeping back into their society.

    I had some German friends staying with me for a few days last week. I told them I had never met a bad German, that Hitler was the only bad German, and they replied in unison: “Hitler was no German, he was Austrian!” Yesterday I read in the German newspaper “Der Spiegel” that Germany is considering revoking Hitler’s application to become a German citizen (retroactively) as a matter of principle.

  2. Kelly Winterton
    March 13, 2007 at 8:49 am #

    Anyone who reads the PNAC documents signed by Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush etc, etc must admit that their intentions are truly Nationalistic, not Patriotic. I believe we crossed the line when the administration adopted the Bush doctrine of Pre-emptive War.

  3. Connor
    March 13, 2007 at 9:26 am #

    We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation. (George W. Bush, Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward)

    Quiz: Are these words of our President patriotism or nationalism? 🙂

  4. Doc
    March 14, 2007 at 8:03 am #

    I also think a lot of patriotism is done with total ignorance to what it is our government is actually doing in the world. Lazy patriotism contributes to the nationalist cause.

  5. Lion
    March 14, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

    In general they both are a Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it. But I think the difference is when you add a Government that is corrupt and they try to push a nationalistic doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other. Such as powerful and continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    Some examples of Nationalism vs. Patriotism:

    When Donald Rumsfield organized the 9/11 Freedom March to use nationalism to call the conspiracy theorists crazy and non American. This is Nationalism and not Patriotism

    When the New Majority Leader says that the Iraq War “May Be the Greatest Gift That We Give” Our Grandchildren. This is Nationalism and not Patriotism

    White House and the RNC are going to make a habit of using uniformed military personnel as props at Republican political rallies, despite the fact that it is a plain violation of military regulations banning politicization of the armed forces. This is Nationalism and not Patriotism

    “You must glorify war in order to get the public to accept the fact that your going to send their sons and daughters to die.” The inside story of the cozy relationship between big box office American war movies and the Pentagon. This is Nationalism and not Patriotism

    When President Bush says “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” This is the most False Dichotomy I can think of and it displays perfectly the Nationalistic mantra that all Fascist governments use to dupe the people into submission. This is Nationalism and not Patriotism

    A Patriot fights for his Country/Government as long as his Government is not breaking the law and is doing what is best for the people.

    A Patriot does not go along with the Fascist Nationalistic diatribe.

    A Patriot fights for his country and not his Government when his government is corrupt and evil.

    A Patriot fights for truth, justice, God and Country.

    A Patriot fights against anything, anyone and any government that takes away any of the God given rights of the people.

    A Patriot fights for his Country and that countries people.

    A Nationalist fights for a Government and not the country or the people of the country.

  6. James Hines
    May 12, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Please also see George Orwell’s NOTES ON NATIONALISM:

  7. James Hines
    May 12, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism

  8. Marissa Hamm
    February 5, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    You say that being a patriot is better than being a nationalist…? While being a nationalist has its benefits, too! some people don’t want to spread their love for their country. Some just say that they love their country and they don’t care if anybody else does because THEY DO!!

    Doesn’t that matter??

  9. Kirk Kirkpatrick
    October 15, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    This essay us an an apology for American nationalism. Were the Serb nationalists recently killing for.the sake of a “central government?”

    Patriotism is nationalism cloaked in respectability. That is all.

  10. Sally
    September 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    Mix Nationalism with Religion and you create Al Queda.


  1. What is a Patriot? - Political Hotwire - December 29, 2007

    […] No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude. ~ Theodore Roosevelt Connor’s Conundrums » Patriotism vs. Nationalism __________________ For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will […]

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